Week 3 sees the team play it’s first away game of the season. The Bulldogs (1-1) will look to improve their record to 2-1 when they play the Penrith Panthers (1-1) at their home ground, Sportingbet Stadium. Here’s what to watch for on Saturday night (kick-off at 4.30 – TV: Fox Sports).
- Offense in focus: The first two weeks have seen disparate showings from the Bulldogs in attack. Week 1 saw a fairly pedestrian performance, managing a meager 1 Linebreak, looking slow and lost with the football in the process. Week 2 however saw the complete opposite. There was urgency and purpose. The team looked energised when in possession of the ball, with direction and execution stemming from solid performances from both halves, Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds resulting in 42 points. However, with no disrespect to a depleted Cronulla Sharks team, this weeks opponents, the Penrith Panthers, should provide a more stern test for the Bulldogs. The Panthers were impressive in Week 2, going down to the Melbourne Storm by just one point. Will we see the potent and controlled attack of Week 2, or the slow and disorganised offense of Week 1?
- Will the lineup remain unchanged?: There was yet again not a single change to the starting lineup for Week 3. This current version of the Bulldogs is missing names such as Greg Eastwood, Sam Kasiano, Krisnan Inu and Tim Lafai. With Head Coach Des Hasler’s track record for last minute roster manouvering, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a late change, particularly Tim Lafai to make a return. However, considering the impressive performance last week, going with what is working right now may appeal a little more to the Coach.
- Ennis effected?: It was reported this week that the team has continued it’s spate of signings and re signings. In particular, the signing of young Sharks Hooker Michael Lichaa made headlines in NRL circles (much more on this here on the blog in the coming week). Lichaa plays the position Michael Ennis does, and figures to be his long term replacement. Will the news surrounding the impending arrival of a young player at his position effect his on-field performance? Ennis has been nothing but a consummate professional his entire career at Canterbury, and is a team co-captain, so it seems unlikely. But as is easily forgotten, all players are human beings too, and outside pressure towards the back end of your career could understandably have an effect.
- The curious case of Jamal Idris: Bulldogs fans should have fond memories of Idris in blue and white. He was an imposing presence in the outside backs with a rare combination of power, speed and athleticism. However, he has struggled to find the success remotely akin to that he experienced whilst a Bulldog. He made his Panthers debut last week, and put forth a positive performance. He ran for 140m, broke 3 tackles and offloaded 3 times. With a few more performances like that, Idris will be on his way to finding the form that once had him in both NSW and Australian jerseys. The Bulldogs must account for his presence on the field, or they could become a stepping stone on Idris’ path to form.
- Player to watch: Corey Thompson. Thompson scored his first Try at NRL level in just his second game in Week 2. He cleaned up a messy pass from Josh Reynolds and managed to get the ball down despite stumbling on his way to the Tryline. It was a solid effort. Thompson in general looked a little more comfortable and dynamic at times in his second NRL appearance. Expect that to only increase as his experience does, and hopefully the speed and quick feet he is known for in NRL circles can feature more prominently in the Bulldogs attack.